This nOde last updated June 2nd, 2002 and is permanently morphing...
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Tyva or Tuva, republic in south central Siberia, in southeastern Russia. It is north of the Republic of Mongolia. Tyva covers a total land area of 170,500 sq km (65,830 sq mi). Kyzyl is the administrative center. High mountain ranges encircle the Tuva and Todza basins, which lie in the central part of the republic. Tyva has extremely cold winters and warm summers.
Tyva has a population of 306,300 (1994 estimate). Tyvans represent nearly two-thirds of inhabitants, and Russians account for nearly one-third. The Tyvans speak a Turkic language. The traditional religions of Tyva are Tibetan Buddhism and shamanism. Agriculture in the republic consists mainly of livestock raising, hunting, and some grain farming. The chief industries are mining, woodworking, food processing, and light manufacturing. Tyva is administered by a president and legislative assembly. One of the 21 Russian republics, it has three seats in the Russian Federal Assembly.
Formed by the mixing of
Mongolian, Turkic, Uygur, and Kyrgyz tribes, the Tyvans were ruled at
various times by the Mongols, the Chinese, and the Altyn khans. The
territory became a Russian protectorate in 1914. During the Russian
Civil War (1918-1921), the Tyvans declared independence. In 1926 the
republic became a semi-independent state under Soviet authority, and
in 1944 it was incorporated into Soviet Russia. In 1991, after the
breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Tyva became
part of newly independent Russia.
The Republic of Tuva, a country in central Asia, first caught Feynman's attention because of his interest in stamp collecting. In the 1930's, the country, in what has been described as a "philatelic orgy," issued a number of off-the-wall stamps in odd shapes (triangles, diamonds, etc.) showing odd scenes (men on camels racing trains, men on horseback hunting with airplanes above them, etc.). In1977, Feynman asked, "Whatever happened to Tannu Tuva?" His friend and collaborator Ralph Leighton helped turn the quest for information on Tuva into an adventure (as chronicled in Leighton's book, _Tuva or Bust_.)
When they looked Tuva up in the atlas, they saw that the capital was named Kyzyl. They decided that any place with a name like that must be interesting! Kyzyl-arguably a word without a vowel in it! They also soon found out that a monument near Kyzyl marked the center of Asia, and that some Tuvans sang with 2 voices-one voice usually a lower drone and the second voice a high-pitched flute-like sound, both from the same person. This information piqued their curiosity and things snowballed; they decided they had to travel to Tuva.